When Toyota just realized the massive potential of their 5-litre New 7 engine, they came up with a crazy idea of fighting with the biggest names in the motorsports. At the time, there was not even a single Japanese firm which could or wanted to compete in the Can-Am (Canadian American Challenge).
Despite being a relatively small displacement engine, the New 7 showed an appalling performance as compared to its rivals. During the second main event known as the Fuji 200, the brilliant knowledge of Minoru Kawai helps Toyota beat the legends of the event, which put Toyota at the top spot. However, Kiro Kawano (Designer) and his team knew very well that the competition is all set to be more fierce than before and McLaren, Ford, and Porsche won’t be willing to lose their spots that easily.
Well, Toyota continued to work on their New 7, and now the horsepower numbers had already reached an astonishing 700HP which was the limit what this 5-litre could handle at the time. So, Toyota decided to look forward deep into an infant technology. This technology was about to become the most commonly used performance mode in modern vehicles. The technology on which Toyota was eyeing on was inspired by aerospace, and it worked by forcing high-pressure gases to a turbine to make it spin more quickly. Since increasing engine displacement was no option and the technology Toyota was interested in was inspired by aerospace and it worked by forcing high-pressure gases to a turbine to make it spin more quickly. Hence allowing to take in more fuel and produce more power. By now you might have already guessed it right. Toyota was on the edge of making the worlds first Turbo-Charged circuit car. and that wasn’t all, the company also started to refine the aero of the car by smoothing out the bodywork and reallocating the radiators to a better location. The exhaust system was raised up, and the old clutch was replaced with the completely new transmission (Aisin Seiko CO SR-55 unit) along with a heavy-duty clutch system to support the massive horsepower. The end result was an 800hp machine which could simply eradicate the competition.
Now before you get tricked into thinking that New 7 was simply perfect than let me tell you that it was not. The problem was that this machine weighed only 620Kg and was only 3.6m long. Even a little bit of throttle made this car show unpredictable behavior, which is obviously because of the massive 534 lb-ft of torque. But the question is how unpredictable? While the car was being tested at Suzuka circuit race track, the driver took the Degner corner at the speed of 200km/h at which the monstrous but lightweight egoist block of aluminum just lost it. The car went out of the track and slingshot Minoru Kawai out of the cockpit, which resulted in both legs and skull badly fractured, after which he died.
Minoru was 28 when he died. He was a very talented racer, who impressed biggest of the names during his time. His death was not only tragic but a very expensive one for Toyota. It soon turned out to be a publicity nightmare for the company since the project started to fall off a cliff after Minoru’s death. Plus, Japanese Automobile Federation looking into the matter simply made the Toyota Turbo 7 an obsolete car, with a single statement. There were officially no cars left in the league of 7 to compete with, which simply put a dead end for Toyota and Turbo 7 will be simply be put in history books.
Despite being an awesome machine, the project ended immediately, and no further improvements were ever made. Toyota gave an official explanations stating:
“Toyota’s supposed need to refocus their energy on developing more fuel efficient and cleaner engines.”
It’s often said that sometimes so much is too much and it was the exact case with Turbo 7. It had so much power as compared to its competitors that it became its enemy.
The three turbo 7 cars are currently being displayed at the Toyota’s museum, as a reminder of the level of insanity Toyota is capable of.